Thursday, July 31, 2014

Are we really prepared?

 
 


Stop and think some time. If our distribution of everything stopped, what would you do?



Last week, I addressed an article that NASA had just released. It concerned the July 23, 2012 "near miss" from our sun. Not to repeat, but we missed being "hit" by the negative effects of a massive solar storm. If it had hit us, there is an excellent chance it would have damaged or destroyed our nation's electrical grid. Life as we know it, would have changed for years, maybe decades.

Yesterday, we found out we had another "near miss" - only this one did not come from space. It almost came from Africa. A doctor who lives in Coon Rapids, Minnesota was on his way back from Western Africa when he became sick. It turns out he had the Ebola virus. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for him, he never made it back to Coon Rapids. If he had, we would have been in unchartered territory. How the CDC would have handled that is unclear. We might have been on a metro wide lockdown.

I have not written about this for a while, but I think it bears repeating. There are a myriad of things that could happen which would cripple or stop our distribution system. If our distribution system stopped, your house would become your store. What you have in your house would have to sustain you - what you do not have in your house, you will probably not be able to obtain, at least for a while.

I am trying to address this as a citizen and not a crazed "prepper" or survivalist. If something happens to our grid, the water coming into your house would stop. If it is a massive EMP, all electric devices, which are not Rad hardened, would cease to function. No water, no toilet, no freezer, no heat. Nada. Water is the most import commodity. We don't do well without water. In fact, most humans don't even make it a week without water. And we saw from Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy, the government cannot be counted on for help in a major disaster. 

What to do? If nothing else, at least have enough potable water and food in your pantry to last for 7 to 10 days. Have some paper plates, paper towels, plastic silverware. Have an adequate amount of flashlights, batteries and candles. Keep extra fresh gasoline on hand, just in case. In case of what? Basically, the unthinkable. Were something to happen so terrible, that you would have to flee your house, you need to be ready for that also. The "preppers" call that the "bug out" option. A "dirty bomb" is an excellent example of why you would need to "bug out".

Finally, this will offend some, but it needs to be addressed. Have a home defense plan. You may be able to help some who are not prepared, but most you will not. They will be on their own. Desperate times will call for desperate measures. Basic survival will become key. We all hope it would never come to this, but it might. Chance will favor the prepared.

So be prepared. Take care of your family. The internet is fraught with various articles on all stages of preparation. As the military teaches, "failure to plan is planning to fail."

   

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Progressive Slouch

 
 




“The rough beast of decadence now sends us slouching towards our new home – not Bethlehem, but Gomorrah…”
Slouching towards Gomorrah
Robert Bork
1996



As bad as we thought things were last year, they are so much worse now. As bad as we thought things were last month, they are so much worse now. As bad as we thought things were last week, they are worse now.

Is this part of our new norm? Waiting until tomorrow to see how much worse things can become? Are we on a one way street, heading the wrong way? In 1996, Robert Bork (who would have been an excellent Supreme Court Justice) wrote a book on what liberalism is doing to our country. It is called Slouching towards Gomorrah. I have not read the entire book, but enough of it to understand what the premise is. I dare say if this piece of non-fiction was updated today to reflect the social mores in our country, it would look more like a dystopian piece of fiction.

We have almost become accustomed to the moral relativism preached by the Progressive Left. Right and wrong are no longer absolutes, as they can now be debated. Our moral yardsticks, better known as the Holy Bible and our Constitution, need to be updated, according to many Progressives. As divided as we have become, we continue to be sliced and diced according to heritage, wealth, color, faith and so on. We have gone from being a diverse, pluralistic society to something resembling confused confetti.

The latest indicator that we are in a slide towards the abyss is our caviler attitude on personal indebtedness. One third of us now are delinquent on some part of our debts. Now we can blame many factors on this one, but the bottom line to me is clear. Many my age were raised with a strong credo - our word is our bond. In other words, if I go to Costco and buy some food items on credit, when the bill comes, I pay it. If there was a reason why I thought I could not pay that bill, I would not incur the expense.

Before the start of the Great Recession, a friend of mine took out a huge loan against his house and built a deluxe cabin up north. The plan was that his house would keep appreciating, so that he could sell it in a few years, and then own the cabin outright. Once the housing bubble burst, it became obvious he could not sell his house for enough to clear the hurdle. So he notified the bank they would either have to settle for a "short sale" on his house, or he would default. And he is not alone in this - it is being done by thousands of people right now. It has become a cottage industry for a new breed of realtor.

Our personal debt issue only mirrors of our national debt issue. I have told my wife many times it is a wonder our kids can take their debts seriously when our country does not. Borrow, borrow, borrow, spend, spend, spend.

Many of us are now gaming the system to qualify for long term disability, food stamps, and unemployment. Investors have turned into day traders, as the stock bubble is now ready to burst. Rather than building for the future, we have become the hedonistic "I will get mine today" society. This is what many of us were warned about years ago.

The Progressive Slouch. Not a medical thing, not something a good chiropractor can fix. It comes from our very souls, our essence. Our country needs to wake up, and we need to fix ourselves. No leader can do it for us - if has to come from us. And the "leaders" that tell us otherwise, need to be looked upon as pariahs and eschewed.         

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Attack from Mexico

 
 


"This poison, which flows across our southern border like the River Styx, is killing our young people by the thousands..."



Imagine if you will, a group of thugs taking over a border town in Mexico. Then imagine if they obtained some simple, yet deadly rockets. They would launch their rockets at one of our border cities. They did not care where they hit, or who they killed. Many of the rockets would land in school yards and kill our teenagers. And what did the good people of this country do about it? Not much.

Much has been said about our southern border as of late. We have found out it is so "impenetrable" that young, unaccompanied kids from Central America can daily breach it. It is a gateway to many who do not have our country's best interest at heart. Illegal aliens, terrorists, and drug runners. Many think our almost open border policy, is an unintended consequence of NAFTA. That subject of course, is up for debate.

However, one thing is crystal clear. The Mexican drug cartels have declared war on American youth. They can deliver their poison over our porous borders and then directly into our cities. This is no different than having a rocket land in a schoolyard. Every year, tens of thousands of young people, from every corner of our nation, suffer and die from the effects of opiates. And the one which has recently been the drug of choice, is black tar heroin.

It is a perfect combination. In this country, we have a southern border we refuse to control. We also have kids who like to play with the devil by experimenting with "gateway drugs". In Mexico, you have a weak and corrupt government. Finally, you have drug cartels who are highly organized and know how to "get product to the market" - regardless of the human cost of doing so.

With the almost 30,000 that die every year from opiate overdosing, what is not reported is this: Every year we also have 22% who experience a near fatal drug experience. Where the user is within a whisker of not waking up. As the drugs get stronger (and yes, the new drugs are very strong), it becomes easier for a user to accidentally "step over the line". If help is not nearby, "stepping over the line" often times becomes end of the line for the user.

For the life of me, I don't understand why our country puts up with this. Shut the southern border down. Those who cross may do so only with the most rigorous inspection. BUILD THE DAMN FENCE! No more talk. No more excuses. No more hyperbole. Just build it. Increase the punishment for selling this poison to our kids. 20 years in a Federal Pen. No parole, no exceptions. NO MORE AID TO MEXICO until they can get their cartels under control.

Our southern border is a mess of the highest magnitude. To me, this should be a state of emergency. The National Guard should be activated to patrol it until a permanent solution is found and implemented. This is a mess, a clear and present danger to our country, that does not need to be so.   

Monday, July 28, 2014

Another Close Call

 
 


"This is not science fiction, it is science. It is a clear and present danger to every person on this planet..."



It was just a normal summer day for most of us. Like today, it was a Monday, and many of us were returning to work after a fun filled week at the lake or working in the yard. It was July 23, 2012. It was the day our way of life almost ended. It was a day that most of us had not idea of the danger we were in. It was a day, given slightly different circumstances, many of us would have suffered and died in the aftermath of what almost hit us.

What was it? It was (and will be again) a solar "super storm". Our sun is in a 150 storm cycle. We are now in the most violent period. When a solar storm erupts, there are two deadly byproducts. The first is something called a coronal mass ejection (CME) and the other are high speed solar flares. Normally the Earth's magnetic field can stop any harmful effects of our Sun's temper tantrums. That is, unless the Sun is having a "super storm".

If this geomagnetic "super storm" had hit a week earlier, it would had hit Earth's orbit. One week - 7 days. The strength of it would have overwhelmed the Earth's magnetic defense shield. The effects would have been catastrophic.

It would have different than what has been portrayed in Hollywood. In the movie Knowing, a massive solar flare torched the Earth, killing everyone, and leaving our blue marble nothing more than a burned out cinder.

However, the effects of this "super storm" hitting the Earth would be much more subtle, yet still deadly. Most of our satellites would be knocked out. Our GPS system would take years to repair. However the real damage would come to our electrical grid. Because of it's dated and fragile shape, it would be toast.

Most of us do not realize how much of our daily activities rely on that grid. Quite simply, without the grid, our daily lives would be similar to what it was in the mid 1800's. We would have no water, as our pumps and the power to operate them would be disabled. Our food supply chain would come to a screeching halt. Stores would be empty. Natural gas would stop flowing as the pumps that send it through our pipelines would have no power. It would be the end of life as we know it for many years. The death toll from starvation, exposure and disease would be staggering.

Even though we dodged the bullet this time, NASA is giving us a 12% chance of this event happening in the next 10 years. We are still in a violent period of solar activity. Some scientists estimate in this country alone, the cost to fix the damage if it hit us would be over $2T.

What can we do? First off, let me change topics just for a second. Reuters News estimates that if we do absolutely nothing with our worn out electric grid, our electric rates could rise 400% by 2050. However, if we upgraded to what is known as a Smart Grid, efficiencies could be engineered into our grid which would cut that increase down considerably. The Smart Grid would not only be smarter, but tougher. Tough enough to withstand harmful EMP effects from either natural or manmade causes.

It is estimated that to upgrade our current grid to a Smart Grid would take almost $500B and take 20 years. This is something we are very late to the party on. Smart Grid technology has been around for quite a while. The Japanese are implementing it. We should be also.

Here is a thought. When the "stimulus" package of $1T was authorized in 2009, just think if half of it was to implement the Smart Grid, and the other half was to build huge desalination water farms to aid our thirsty west. The "stimulus" package yielded nothing but more debt. These two projects alone would have benefited us all. All we can do now is cross our fingers and hope the 12% chance of being hit never happens. 

   

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Water Wars

 
 


I really don't get it. We live on a planet that is almost 75% water. Should we not have enough?



First the good news: Parts of the country (including ours) have had an abundance or water this year. A healthy winter, a soggy spring, and an adequate summer. The corn and the beans are looking wonderful - another bumper crop is expected. Now the bad news: Parts of the country, including California, remain gripped in an historic drought. California, which grows one heck of a lot of vegetables, fruits, and nuts, is expecting huge agricultural losses this year.

Adequate fresh and potable water has been something we take for granted in this country. It is like breathing - it is automatic until you can't do it. Then it becomes a crisis. I have addressed this issue before many times. The United States, like most of the world, has access to almost unlimited water. However, most of that water is unfit for agriculture or drinking. We rely on ancient aquifers and run off from mountain snow to take care of our water needs. 

Well, here is where the really bad news comes in. Our ancient aquifers cannot keep up with the demand we are putting on them. Translation - they cannot regenerate fast enough. This source of water that we have relied on since the pioneer days are about to become for the most part, unusable. In addition, if our climate is starting to change, it is possible the heavy mountain snows will not be so heavy in the future. That means the Colorado River, which supplies so many with so much, might not be able to do as much in the future. So, what are going to do? Instead of trying to discover new ways to solve this issue, what is our current course? We will fight over our remaining water, mostly in arid regions of the country. 

Scientists have warned about this for a while now. We have an upcoming water crisis that is not going to be pretty. In fact, it will get downright ugly. It will be state against state, neighbor against neighbor, farmer against golfers. States with water will be coveted by those without. The Great Lakes will be looked upon as the nation's canteen. Because nobody addressed this problem before it became a problem, poor solutions will be coming fast and furious.

My solution remains as it always has been. We are surrounded on three sides by water. Assuming that some of the polar ice will melt in the next century, our oceans will rise instead of fall. We can pump almost unlimited water out of our surrounding oceans to be used for desalination purposes. Water will become a commodity, sold to the states. When people (including farmers) start paying for water, much more efficient ways to use that water will emerge. The bad news will be that water will no longer be free. The good news is we will have water to use.

I don't know when the drought out west will end. I hope it is soon, as those who live out there deserve better. If it does not however, look for the water wars to intensify. This could be a major problem in our country. Unfortunately, if we had done the proper advanced planning, it will be a problem we should not have.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Where the jobs are(n't)

 
 



"I have a degree in Art History. Can you please help me get a job?"



Earlier this week, there were a few "dust ups" on the internet concerning jobs in Minnesota. Some facts were brought forward, as was some conjecture. It even led to some hard feelings, some hurtful things were said. My feeling on the job market is really quite simple. There are things this Administration, as well as past Administrations, have done to hamper the production of good, well paying jobs. However this metamorphosis in our job market is something that has been going on for decades.

My research is based on information contained in the 2013 Business Information Guide. Some of what I learned was a "no-brainer" - whereas other parts of it was an eye opener. The Information Guide dealt with the top 25 employers in the State of Minnesota. Those top 25 employers cover about 425,000 people statewide.

So what did this exercise reveal to me? For one thing, there are far more than 425,000 employed in this state, so the numbers are not inclusive. However, I do believe they representative to a degree. Next up, is shows how the manufacturing sector continues to shrink, and healthcare continues to grow. For example in the top 25 firms, a bit over 7% were manufacturing, and almost 31% were in healthcare. In addition, one of the manufacturing firms (Metronic) employs almost 2% of all workers listed in the study. Metronic could have gone in either the manufacturing or the healthcare sector.

The "heavy manufacturing" jobs are gone. Have been for awhile. Ford closed up it's St. Paul plant and moved elsewhere. The "old pump" (FMC), that I worked at, is no more. All those big heavy "metal benders" are gone. The manufacturing company my Dad worked at for 40 years - gone. We still have 3M as a manufacturing concern. That is about it for the big manufacturing companies in Minnesota.

The big growth industry in this state (besides healthcare), is government. The total of the 425,000 who are working in the Federal, State or Local government is 25%. If you add in the number of people working for the University of Minnesota and MNSCU, the number is 35%! In other words, for a young person coming out of school, looking for the best chance of being hired, almost 66% of the jobs in the top 25 employers are in government, higher education or healthcare. Those are stone cold facts.

There is one other complicating factor for jobs in Minnesota. Like the nation, our labor participation rate continues to drop. As much as I would like to hang this around some politician's neck, it really boils down to simple demographics. This is from an article printed the local paper in 2013:

So what we have in Minnesota is 365,000 more people who could conceivably be in the workforce than we did in 2003. But only 105,000 more people actually in the workforce.
This is mostly not a symptom of the recent recession and the economy's slow recovery, but rather a symptom of demographics: Minnesota is getting older.

Translation to the above: In Minnesota, we will continue to have a lower than normal unemployment rate. There are jobs here to be had. However, they are jobs which are part of our "new normal". The type of training I had at the University 40 years ago, would be ill suited for the jobs of today. They are primarily service sector jobs. Government jobs. Rather than jobs that provide goods and services, our "new normal" creates jobs that provide services only. And with 25% in government, those jobs produce no revenue.

There it is. I tried to be as accurate as possible without being normative nor discriminating. If someone has different facts than these, I would love to hear them.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Vacation!

 
 


"I forgot to check - how days of vacation come with this job?"




I was thinking yesterday. I was thinking back when I was still in the heat of battle in the work a day world. One of the biggest, most stressful negotiations I was ever involved in became a nine week marathon in Washington. There were many "chips on the table". To be successful in the deal meant $100M for the company (which was lots of money on 1986), and 100 manufacturing jobs. To lose the deal was unthinkable.

The deal had quite a bit of visibility which went quite a way up the food chain. Imagine about half way through the negotiation I told my boss I needed to go on vacation. Anywhere from two to five weeks. After all, it is something I did every year. The result would have been simple - after my boss got done laughing, he would have fired me on the spot. Period. Game over.

Today, in the sea of scandals, crisis and emergencies, our Congress is going to pack up, grab their sun screen, and go relax. Don't worry - it will only be a quickie - five weeks to be exact. Our President is also going on vacation. Only his will be a paltry two weeks in Martha's Vineyard.

Now far be it from me to tell anyone they can't take vacation. However, I also believe that timing is everything. Is the VA mess fixed as yet? Not that I know of. So our vets are hung out to dry for another period of time. Hurry up and wait some more. How about the southern border? Nope. Tens of thousands of poor, uneducated minors are showing up with no place to go. ISIL in Iraq and Syria? Now that we know the Administration knew this threat was growing for many months and DID NOTHING about it, who cares if it grows some more while the lawmakers vacation. Israel and Gaza? The death toll is nearing 1,000 and peace is nowhere is sight. Even Jimmy Carter could bring warring factions together in the Middle East. The Russian reset button? Oh well, it is the Cold War, take two.

When everyone comes back around Labor Day, we will then be focused on the mid-terms. I dare say that none of the items listed above will be over by that time. In fact, if past history is any guide, there will be more to add. The IRS scandal is not yet resolved, the Benghazi story had not yet been told, and the whole NSA mystery remains just that - a mystery.

In my almost 65 years, I have NEVER seen our nation's capitol so hosed up. And that is the nicest way I can say it (and also with no invective). If I was the CEO of this country, I would fire just about everyone, from the White House down. I would then replace them with people who have skills and dedication. Good Lord - how in the world did we get to such a place!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why Israel?

 
 

 
"This land is mine, God gave this land to me..."
 
From the song Exodus


The later half of the 1940's was an interesting period in world history. Quite a few things happened, that were of utmost importance. Just to name some of the bigger ones:
  • Germany surrenders - May 8th, 1945
  • Trinity nuclear test - July 16th, 1945
  • Japan surrenders - September 2nd, 1945
  • Cold War begins - sometime in 1946
  • State of Israel established - May 14th, 1948
  • Country of South Korea established - August 15th, 1948 
I think most can agree that this three year period during the later period of the 1940's contained quite a bit of history. Of all those historical events, I would like to focus on only one for this article - the creation of the State of Israel. Why? Israel is in the news once again, fighting for it's very existence. And as has happened before, parts of the world are divided on Israel's right to even exist in the Middle East.

First some history that many of us might already know. The Holy Bible describes the persecution of the Jewish People. Time and time again, they were driven out of ancient Israel. The last time was 2,000 years ago. Jerusalem, as well as other parts of Israel, are considered to be holy by both Christian and Jew alike. Jesus, who was Jewish, was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is located in Israel about 6 miles south of Jerusalem. He also died, was buried and resurrected in or around ancient Jerusalem. Much of the roots of the Jewish religion also takes place in ancient Israel.

During the Holocaust in World War II, the Jewish people were once again scattered. Many that survived Nazi gas chambers or firing squads, were either hiding in Europe or living in the United States. The one thing the remaining Jews had in common was simple - they wanted to return to Israel, a land they had not been able to call home for 2,000 years.

Ownership of Israel was messy to say the least. Without going into too much history, in 1922, Israel became part of the Mandate for Palestine, as established by the League of Nations. It then became a British Protectorate.

In November of 1947, the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 which was also known as the Partition Resolution. This resolution would divide the Mandate for Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in 1948 when the British mandate was scheduled to end. Finally on the 14th of May in 1948, by decree of the United Nations, the State of Israel was born. Jewish people from all over the world began to return to their homeland.

Flash forward to today. Israel, which is located on a tiny piece of land the size of New Jersey, has gone through two major wars and numerous smaller battles. Israel is surrounded by Arab countries and the sea. As Bebe Netanyahu has said many times, "Israel lives in a very rough neighborhood."

Many Arab nations have denounced Israel's very right to exist. Some in this country also feel negative towards Israel. They question why we support her.

Regardless of how our current Administration acts at times, Israel is our staunchest ally in the Middle East. My feeling as an American is straight forward - Israel not only has a right to exist, but also to thrive. They have the right to live in peace. They have the right NOT to have rockets rain down on them from Gaza. 

Some people talk about Israel's lack of restraint in the latest Gaza incursion. The fact Israel sent in ground troops shows incredible restraint. By sending in ground troops, Israel knew some would not come back to Israel alive. Israel has the military might to end this Gaza incident in two days. If they were barbaric, they could. They could level Gaza and neutralize the threat. Because they were attacked first, they would be in their right to do so. But they do not. They want the threat ended, to return to peace, however with a minimum of casualties.

A good book to read if you have not as yet is Exodus by Leon Uris. For me, it was an eye opener. It described in great detail the plight of the Jews just prior to their return to Israel in 1948. I support Israel. I support her right to exist. I support her right to live in peace. Bottom line - I stand with Israel!    

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Fundraiser

 
 


"Someone was asked on the news yesterday what Obama's biggest strength was. Response? FUNDRAISING!"



One of my former bosses had a saying - "If you don't know what you are doing, at least look like you know what you are doing. That might fool some of the people, and you won't look as inept." Of course this was tongue in cheek. His expectations were that everyone was to be on top of their game at all times. However, the motto was a good joke and we laughed about it often.

I am going to give our Progressive President a wee bit of slack. I believe he reached his "Peter Principal". In fact, I believe he reached it quite early in his new career. Like many people in over their heads, BHO gravitates back to tasks he is comfortable with, something he is good at. For him, that would be fundraising and campaigning. He is not only good at them, he is very good indeed!

Plus, the nice thing about being halfway through the second term, our President no longer has to worry about optics - how he looks. At one time, he did. No longer. Now he is getting criticism from all sides. The world is on fire, the economy still sucks, wars are raging, and so on. His response (as well as his spokesperson) "Yada, yada, yada." In other words, tough toenails.

I believe the following - history will judge this man very harshly. Broken promises, unfulfilled commitments, and the worst of all - further dividing the country by color, wealth and sex. Most Presidents have been able to recognize the differences between the political parties, yet still strive to bring the country together. Most Presidents believe they are to be the leader of ALL the people. Not this one. Whether he believes it or not, he acts like he is only the leader of some of the people.

So who cares? Let's hop aboard Air Force One and fly to the Left Coast for more fundraising from the peeps. Hey, it only costs $230,000 hour to operate the big jet. A quick hop to HollyWeird and back is only 10 hours of air time, or $2.3M. Big whoop! The important thing is that he can collect some more money to ensure our Senate stays as dysfunctional as always. All this, while Rome continues to burn.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why I choose Jeff

 
 
 


"In the beginning, he was my second choice. However, the more I got to know him and his views, he is now definitely my first choice..."



I started to put this article together yesterday. I decided to wait for a day due to the events which happened in the West Bank over the weekend. Like most of us, I had no idea that Jeff Johnson would have unscheduled surgery on a perforated stomach yesterday morning. The good news is the surgery went fine and Jeff is recovering at one of our finest hospitals.

Before the current campaign season I did not know Jeff. I knew of him, but did not know him personally. I had heard from mutual friends that Jeff is a very good and decent man as well as a highly qualified Hennepin Country Commissioner. The fact that he wants to run for Governor of this state, surprises me not.

I wanted to have the chance to chat with all Republican candidates who were running for Governor, Congress in CD6, and Senator. I did indeed get a chance to talk to most of them. I have talked to both Rhonda and Tom in the race for Congress in CD6; I have talked to Mike McFadden and Jim Abeler in the race for Al Franken's Senate Seat; and I have talked to Jeff Johnson and Marty Seifert in the race for Governor. I did not talk to Kurt Zellers nor Scott Honour as they have either skipped or eschewed our state's endorsement process.

Not to sound too Minnesotan, every candidate I have spoke to was not only very nice, but also meets my threshold for job qualifications. Leading up to the Rochester Convention, Jeff Johnson is the person I knew the least . One evening shortly before we left to Rochester, Jeff called me at home. Even with his busy schedule, he took the time (almost a half an hour) to call me to make sure I knew him and his positions on issues.

Even though I had made up my mind to support Dave Thompson, the half hour phone call with Jeff almost caused me to change from "green to red" (campaign colors). Jeff told me about his Minnesota roots, his family, his faith. As a transformational man, these topics mean something to me. Then we talked about issues. I asked him the tough questions - taxes, Met Council, LRT and so on. Jeff never ducked and weaved. He was in my "no spin zone". The transactional part of me really liked the way he answered my questions. Jeff scored a lot of points with me that evening.

However, at the start of the convention, I was still a "green guy" (Dave Thompson supporter). I would tell people I was a "51-49" supporter for Dave. The 49 was for Jeff Johnson. In other words, should Dave not get the votes, I would have no trouble, no trouble at all, supporting Jeff. And that is exactly what happened.

Since the convention, I have gotten to know Jeff even better. I am convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he is the person to lead our state. I have joined his team on his Veteran Advisory Counsel. I contribute to him, I campaign for him, and I march for him in parades. While he is mending, I will go the extra mile to help out.

One thing I will say in conclusion. As much as I know Jeff is the best person to lead this state, any one of the four Republican candidates would be light years better than what we have now. What does this mean? If Jeff does not survive this meaningless primary on August 12th, I will be both sad and disappointed. It will make a mockery of our entire representative democratic way of selecting candidates, all the way from the precinct caucus to the state convention. I will however, support and vote for the Republican winner of the primary. ANYBODY will be better than four more years of Mark Dayton.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A More Permanent Solution

 
 



"Without Israel's Iron Dome, the current missiles used by Hamas could have inflicted grave damage to many civilian areas in Israel..."



By now, most of us are thinking we have seen this movie before. An occasional rocket shot into Israel, followed by more and more. Then a spark to set things on fire. This year it was the kidnapping and murder of three innocent Israeli (one actually dual citizenship American) teenagers followed by a revenge killing of one Palestinian kid. Than all hell broke loose with dozens of rockets being shot at Israel every day.

As much as different Arab countries or tribes like to fight amongst themselves, NOTHING brings them together faster than one group or country having a dustup with Israel. As in previous years, Israel only takes so much of the rocket attacks before unleashing her army in a "boots on the ground" war. As many of us know, pound for pound, there are few armies on earth tougher than the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). To date, hundreds have been killed, mostly Palestinians.

Here are some facts what Israel puts up with. When a missile is launched, the sirens go off and people have to scurry to air raid shelters. Very disruptive, no matter which day of the week it is. Even though the Iron Dome can now take out 90% of the missiles fired, when a missile is neutralized, it does not just vanish into air. It falls to ground and still may do considerable damage. In addition, some missiles still get through. Finally, since Hamas is a proxy of Iran, newer and better missiles are being supplied all the time.

If Mexico became a terror state, and we had our southern cites bombarded by missiles (no matter how crude), even President Bystander would (I hope) take some action. We would neutralize the threat using any means possible. If it happened again and again, our people would be clamoring for a more permanent solution. And that is exactly what I think should happen in Gaza. They need to extract Hamas from the Palestinian Authority (PA) and re-legitimize the government. Once they do that, Israel needs to tell the PA that Israel does not want to occupy the West Bank - however they will if they have to.

Some American military experts beleive Hamas fighters are dirty street fighters with no heart. It has also been said they hide their munitions and launchers in schools, hospitals and mosques. They are hoping that Israel will take out some innocent women and children when neutralizing hidden launch areas. Israel hates that part of Hamas more than any other thing. I have during past incursions, Israel practices incredible restraint - much more than this country would. As for me, I stand with Israel. Let peace return to the Middle East. Israel deserves it as do innocent Palestinians.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Let them see You...

 
 


 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
 
Matthew 28, verses 18-20



Every now and again, a song comes to mind which really convicts me. The message in this song is not a new idea, it really is ancient. In fact, it goes back to Matthew 28 in the Holy Bible. It deals with the Great Commission. If you are going to a church that never mentions this most important verse in the Bible, I suggest you try a different church. You see in my humble opinion, this is what our faith is all about.

Ever since I really learned about the Great Commission, I have not taken it lightly. It goes far beyond standing on a street corner soap box, preaching in a loud voice. Not that it is bad - it is just not for everyone. So where does that leave the rest of us, those who want to practice this most important commission, but are not gifted or inclined to preach?

It is quite simple really. Not only can we be the hands and feet of Christ by serving others, we can be "Christ like" in our behavior and actions. I know, I know - easier said that done. If anyone is looking at me for an example, please look the other way. I am still a work in progress. I will say this however - every day, I am learning more and more how to measure my words and temperament. I am reminded how Ephesians teaches us to edify others and how James 3 warns us of the evil of the tongue.

So now I am back to the song. A song performed by The JJ Weeks Band. A song called Let them see You. A song I cannot get out of my head. Not so much for the melody, but for the message. This song is a prayer song, asking that in everything that we say, in everything we do, people can see Christ through us. Wow. Asking broken people in a broken world to do such things. However, Jesus has told us when we belong to Him, we are a new creation. A new creation in the world, not off the world (based on Romans 12:2).

Many times I run across people who are very uncomfortable with the mandate of Matthew 28.  They don't believe they can do anything to fulfill this most important commandment. Yes we can. It is just a matter of putting the Matthew 28 filter in between our mind and our mouth. So that what we say to others can be God honoring. It is also a matter of incorporating Matthew 28 into our bodies, so everything we do can be God honoring.

Easy? Heck no! I fail daily. However, I dust myself off and keep on trying. It is just too important not to.

Playing without a coach...

 
 

 
"It is tough when the other side has a coach who is determined to win, and our side has no leadership..."




Watching the news this morning was both enlightening and tough at the same time. It was tough as the world continues to be a mess and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It was enlightening as I heard some very good pearls of wisdom.

The subject discussed was the Russian Bear, and the loss of Flight MA 17. More specifically, what are we going to do about it. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that Moscow may not have given the order to fire the missile (probably fired from a Russian BUK system), but their fingerprints were on it. One military expert yesterday stated that this system is so complex, most Russian technicians take two years of training to become proficient on it.

Since the Russians have already whisked away the plane's black boxes, we will have to use other forensic evidence to further build evidence to implicate the guilty parties. I have no doubt that we will. Once that happens and Russia is found guilty as sin, what is next? That question was asked of a military expert on the news this morning. His answer - nothing. Why? His words -"We have no coach".

Before BHO became the "leader of the free world", liberty loving peoples of the world could look to us for guidance, leadership and help. No more. Not one country in the Euro Zone is going to stand alone against the Russian Bear. Most countries have seen the hand writing on the wall. They have seen how we act, how we follow up on our threats. In other words, instead of "having their backs", we are playing golf, fighting with Republicans, or fund raising. No leadership, no coach.

One of the commentators asked a very simple question - with a different leader, what could we do? The answer has been addressed by many (including myself) before. First: Inform the Euro Zone that we will be their natural gas supplier from now on. Period. We will meet or beat what they were paying to the Russians. Second: By executive order, initiate additional LNG facilities at ports in the United States. We will need them as we will now be a world leader in natural gas exports. Third: Show the world we mean business on all our energy reserves. Authorize the Keystone Pipeline, open up additional public land (on shore and offshore) for drilling, and build more up to date refineries. Finally, build the missile shield in Poland. Canceling this project was a big, big mistake.

Ronald Reagan never had to raise his voice when addressing the Soviets. His words were measured and firm. Most of all, the Soviets were smart enough to know this man meant business. He was a leader, a coach, and a friend to freedom loving peoples world wide. If he were alive and healthy today, and our president, it would be very interesting to see how Putin would react to him. I dare say this - Putin, like his predecessors, respects strength. The Bear would be back in his cage, like they were in the 80's and 90's, behaving much, much better. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Standing by, once again...

 
 


"This is very interesting. Kind of like watching a movie that I am not in..."



"Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Where in the world do I start? I was just having a discussion with a friend of mine about how it seems as bad as every week has become, the following week gets even worse. The past two days I have written about some local politics issues. During those two days, I had my topic for today all picked out. It was hard for me to wait to write it, as it was going to be smoking hot. However, as most know by now, everything has been superseded by the events of yesterday. That topic will have to wait for another day.

Before I begin, first let me take an aside. A long time friend of mine is doing something (in my opinion) very risky. He is gambling just about everything to buy an asset. When I asked him why he was doing this, he replied, "It will be my legacy for my kids". However do so, he is going to have to default on his mortgage - in other words, become a deadbeat. Here is a man, who has been responsible his entire life. Now in his twilight years, he is throwing it all away, just to buy this asset. What he fails to understand is this - his legacy is not what he leaves for his children, his legacy is how he is lives his life. And part of how he lives his life is how he honors his commitments.

The reason I bring this up is only for analogy. Yesterday, when all hell was breaking loose in Gaza as well as over the Ukraine, President Bystander was doing the two things he does best - nothing and fundraising. Most everyone I listed to in the media, be they conservative, moderate and even liberal, took a shot at POTUS for going to New York to attend a couple of fund raisers. It was the same M.O. he did after Benghazi (Las Vegas fund raisers) and the border crisis (Texas fund raisers).

So what does this have to do with my long time friend and the asset he is sacrificing everything to buy? Simple. The purpose of the fund raisers is to garner cash to ensure the Democrats hold on to the Senate this November. That way (in the President's mind), he has a better chance to hammer home the rest of his agenda, thereby solidifying his "legacy". However, that is a fool's errand. His legacy is being written right now - how he handles an ever changing and increasingly dangerous world. And his legacy right now is looking much worse than "Carter-ville".

One of the pundits I listened to last night brought up an excellent point (once again). His words: "Either the President just does not care anymore (about his job), or he is putting on the appearance that he does not care." Wow! Does that nail it. Prior to the fundraisers yesterday, he mentioned the shoot down of the Malaysian airliner for 40 seconds and then was back to cracking jokes. All these world crisis issues are too him are mere distractions from what he likes to do.

To quote an old saying, "this guy is a piece of work". I really don't know if we or the world can survive for another 916 days of his presidency. Yes, that is the actual number - 916 days. We are like a plane flying with no pilot. Even a bad pilot is better than no pilot. Our State Department did however, tell the IDF (Israel) to be careful for civilians while in Gaza. I don't remember the State Department ever telling Hamas not to aim their rockets at civilian targets in Israel. Another example of our a very confused and conflicted foreign policy run by, and explained by, children and idiots.

So happy Friday folks. Rome continues to burn and the fire spreads. We continue to reap what we have sown. Those who gambled everything on "Hope and Change" are only getting 50% of what they mortgaged their future (and ours) on. There is no hope, however the changes (all bad), just keep on a coming...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Marty Mystery

 
 
 

 
"Unlike Scott, I have met Marty, talked to him more than once, and Marty had the courtesy to come to the endorsing convention..."



First a bit of disclosure. I like Marty Seifert. He is a nice man. Not a perfect man, but a nice man. In addition, he has had experience in both the public and private sector. He has a great family. That being said, I am disappointed in him that he has not thrown his support behind the endorsed candidate for governor.

Down in Rochester, I was on Team Thompson from the get-go. I had my green shirt on and even helped inside the campaign team room. When it became obvious after a few ballots the numbers were not with him, Dave Thompson gracefully and eloquently conceded. He then pledged his support to the soon to be endorsed candidate, Jeff Johnson.

When the time came for Marty to do the same, he did not. He withdrew from the race and then released his supporters. I was not there when it happened, so the following is antidotal. I was told he did not release them to support Jeff, rather he released them to leave the convention. By doing so, it could have put the entire endorsing process in jeopardy as the numbers would not have been there to conclude endorsement. Fortunately they were, and by the end of the day, we had Jeff Johnson as our endorsed candidate.

I understand not all are fans of the endorsing process. Some believe we should go directly to primary and skip this meaningless step. My feeling is different. We have a process in this state, in our party. It starts with the precinct caucus night (anyone can come), then the BPOU endorsing convention, then the CD endorsing convention, and finally the state endorsing convention. Much time, effort and money is spent to get us to that point. Once we have the endorsed candidate, we need to be "team players" and get behind the winner.

I wish nothing but the best for Marty in his future endeavors. He is a talented man and will do good things for our state. I do however, worry that Marty may have hurt himself (even in the short term) by how things played out in Rochester. I have said before, taking on a sitting governor, which will use the Minnesota DFL machine, is not going to be an easy task. It will take unity and a strong team. A fractured team will most likely result in four more years of Dayton.

My plea to Marty, Kurt and Scott is simple - let us please do the right thing for the people of this state. A term only lasts four years. If Jeff cannot deliver on what was promised, there will be another day. This day however, belongs to Jeff Johnson.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Scott Problem?

 
 



"There is often a price to pay when you snub party loyalists at their big dance..."


Before I get into the meat of this article, let me first make two points: 1) I have never met Scott Honour. I would have liked to, but he decided to skip the Rochester endorsing convention. He might be the nicest man in the world or otherwise, I just don't know. 2) What I have to say I will do gently, as not to violate the 11th commandment. I think Scott is a Republican, but I don't know for sure, as he has never run for any office before.

Yesterday, there was a big article in the home town newspaper about Scott. The purpose of the article was to introduce Scott to the public. It talked about his Minnesota roots, his family, his move to California, and then his return home. It was all fine and dandy until it discussed his career. Because Scott is such an unknown, I had no idea what he did for a living. I do know he became fabulously wealthy from it. He retired from his firm at the ripe old age of 45 with enough money in the bank to buy a $15M home on Lake Minnetonka.

If Scott were running as a Democrat, what he did for a living would be a huge target for me. You see, Scott was not a job creator like other Republican candidates I have talked to. According to the article in the paper, Scott was a job eliminator. The part of the article which bothered me defined his company as follows:
 
The company specialized in buying companies and then finding efficiencies through layoffs, plant closings and other reductions, sometimes resulting in bankruptcy.

It said that one of the areas that Scott specialized in was the Defense sector. Since I worked in that sector for 25 years, I am fully aware of the pain and suffering downsizing caused many fellow workers. Many of the people who were laid off had trouble making their mortgage payment, much less buying a new mansion on the big lake to the west.

In the last election, the Democrats simply hammered poor old Mitt Romney for being "rich and out of touch". To Mitt's credit, he created companies which created jobs. To his detriment, he also acquired companies that after streamlining, cost jobs. Overall however, Mitt created more jobs than he eliminated. In addition, Mitt had government executive experience as the former Governor of Massachusetts.

My biggest fear about Scott Honour (should he win the August 12th primary) is simply this - he will become a caricature of an ancient stereotype of the Republican Party. Even though our current Governor leaves Scott in the dust with his family money (worth over $1B), because of the way presents himself, most state lemmings don't look at him as being rich. Scott's wealth, along with his lack of government experience, and his career record, could make him a huge target. That would dilute any valid message Scott was trying to deliver.

Hopefully, I was able to make my point without excoriating Scott or besmirching his character. That is not my aim. In addition, it is not my intent to violate the eleventh commandment. My advice to Scott's campaign staff would be simple - stand by to address these issues. They will probably not come up before the primary, but should Scott be victorious in August, you can bet your bottom dollar they will be front and center in the November general election.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The first wheel is getting very loose...

 
 


"I don't understand how he is going to drive this thing when there are no longer any wheels..."


Just when you think you have seen it all, just when you think you have seen the worst of it, the man behind the wheel of our country manages to sink us a bit deeper. This week is basically a continuation of last week. No better, and a very good chance to get worse.

Just a minor recap:
  • The shooting war is about to get very serious between Hamas and Israel. An Egypt sponsored cease fire was agreed to by Israel and rejected by Hamas. Instead of the cease fire, Hamas answered with another 60 rockets over Israel. Consequently, Israel has been forced to put up a 9th battery for the Iron Dome. This is very dangerous and our President is a total bystander rather than a peacemaker.
  • Yesterday, Jim Santelli of CNBC fame got into a shouting match with someone while on the Chicago Trading Floor. Bottom line - Mr. Santelli (who is very smart), said we are going straight into financial ruin as we continue to print too much money. That was yesterday. Today, Janet Yellen announced the Fed would continue with more of the same. Same what? Printing more money of course!
  • Jeff Sessions today sent a letter to everyone in Congress stating he heard the President will shortly use Executive Authority to legalize millions of illegals. Sessions believes this will gravely hurt, maybe ruin the country if Obama does this. He might be right.
  • The CDC is now concerned we might end up with a disease we are not prepared for as illegals from Central America continue to be moved through the country. A man in Colorado has just been diagnosed with the worst possible type of Plague (yes, you heard right). Once Pandora's Box is opened and incurable diseases are released, we will really have trouble.
  • Of course, with all that is going on, the worst AG in our nation's history said again we have a race problem in this country. In fact, that is the reason these so called "Patriots" want to take the country back - they are racists. Has nothing to do with the trashing of the Constitution of course - it is all race. Well, I am one of those "Patriots", and taking our country back has NOTHING to do with race!
Well that is it, and it is only Monday afternoon. The week is young. Keep your eyes on Israel. If Hamas does not cease and desist soon, I am afraid this could set the Middle East on fire. And when that happens, the Caliphate could spread very quickly and become almost unstoppable.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The 11th in the 6th

 
 


"As a young man, I had two heroes in my life - my Dad and President Reagan..."



To date, history has been very kind to the Gipper. And it should be. The man who turned around the "Carter malaise economy", the man who ended the cold war, the man who kept the world in check, the man who changed our country for the better. He showed us what "Morning in America" really meant. Many invoke the name of President Reagan, but as the saying goes, "most fall short" in matching his grace, style and acumen.

However, a legacy of his which I hold dearly is the "Eleventh Commandment". Simply put, it states "Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican". Wise words from a very wise man. And these were not just empty words to President Reagan - they were his credo. And how are we doing with his Eleventh Commandment in 2014, specifically in CD 6? Well, the Gipper might be spinning in his grave.

One of my favorite sayings goes, "Tack is telling someone to go to hell and then have that person look forward to the trip." The Gipper had another skill when he debated someone inside or outside his party. He could tell someone they were full of crap by using gentle language often dashed with his sense of humor. True, he was more gentle with those in his own party as compared to the opposition. However, he showed kindness and decorum to all Americans. Enemies of this country, not so much. They saw Reagan's teeth and muscle.

I have seen cruel and vile things said about some candidates in certain races, particularly in the race for CD 6. I really don't mind when people talk or write about one candidate's strengths or ideas over another. I completely turn off when I hear rumors, innuendos, half truths, or ancient mistakes of a candidate's youth. One candidate in the race is trying to follow the Reagan commandment, almost to a "T'". In fact, that candidate has told the staff should they say one unkind or tawdry thing about any other Republican candidate, they will be fired immediately.

My request to fellow Conservatives or Republicans is simple - focus on the issues and how to fill this open position with a Constitutional Conservative. Now that the endorsement process is over, ALL FIRE should be focused on the DFL endorsed candidate. And that includes those on social media who consider themselves Conservatives. We have good people running this year - extraordinarily good people. Not only good, but very nice human beings. Our bench strength is very strong - maybe the strongest in years. Let us remember the wise counsel left to us by the Gipper and fight the Democrats on their turf, not ours. Our battle cry remains simple - Victory in November!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Is your past in the past?

 
 

 
"One of our former pastors would always remind people that everyone has a past..."



From the Disney movie Frozen, most everyone with small children has heard the theme song "Let it Go" over and over and over again. It is a catchy tune, and did very well at the last Academy Awards. Within that song lies my favorite line. When one of the main characters, Elsa the Snow Queen, takes off her old crown and throws it to the wind, she sings "the past is in the past!"

So what do we do with our past? A few years ago, a friend asked me if I would ever consider running for public office. My answer was a quick "no". I said I have a number of skeletons in my closet, mostly from youthful missteps. Now truthfully, today I am a pretty good boy. I have had a top secret clearance for years, a spotless criminal record, and only one minor infraction in fifty years of driving. That being said, if someone dug deep enough in my past, I KNOW they would find things I would not be proud of.

People of faith know that God does not want us to be poisoned by our past. When we sin (as we all do) God wants us to ask for forgiveness, atone, and then move on. In fact, one of my favorite verses from the Holy Bible is John 1, verses 8 and 9: 

 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. However, if we confess our sins, He who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness…
If we screw up, confess it, learn from it, and then it is over. Period. The past will then be in the past. I asked our pastor once how God can forget all the bad things we have done, after we have broken His heart, over and over again. My pastor responded, "God does not forget - He just choses not to remember."

Our job therefore is twofold. First, not be a victim of our past. Learn and grow, and then move on. Next, we need to understand that EVERYONE has a past. For all of us, there are elements in the past that are regrettable and hopefully forgettable. It is not right, nor scriptural, to remind people of the less than honorable parts of their past.

Someone once said, "The past is behind us, the future in not yet here, so we live in the present. And the present has been name as such, since it is just that - a gift." All of us would be better off if we remembered that thought - and then truly let our past be in the past.

 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Captain Obvious or Captain Oblivious



"I guess we can no longer use the term 'detached' - there must be a term which digs much deeper than that..."



I will admit to one thing on this beautiful Saturday morning - I am a sucker for good or cleaver advertising. One of my favorites as of late is Captain Obvious from Hotel.com fame. I usually tune out or fast forward through commercials. Not so much when Captain Obvious is on. The man who portrays the good Captain is good, obviously good!

Even though Captain Obvious plays a goofball in his commercials, I would take him in a New York minute over what we have now as President. You see, Captain Obvious would look at the world and come up with the following conclusions or actions:
  • Scrap the $3.7B "emergency" funding request for the border. There is not one red cent in there for border security. What is it then? Roughly $67,000 per illegal kid for medical, schooling and lawyer expenses. No, this is not a joke. There is provisions in the request for these kids to get "lawyered up".
  • Call up the National Guard this weekend. Even Woodrow Wilson called up the Guard in 1916 when Pancho Villa came across the New Mexico border. Governor Perry is only asking for 1,000 guard members to be called up. I think he will need more, but a thousand is a good start.
  • Call Mahmoud Abbas and tell him he has one hour to cease and desist ALL rocket attacks coming into Israel from the West Bank or any other place related to Palestine. There have been over 700 rockets fired by Palestine in the last four days alone. Failure to do so will result in zero dollars in foreign aid coming to into the Palestinian National Authority for the next five years. That money would go to Israel for additional national defense items.
  • Using third party sources, inform Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi he has until the end of the month to vacate the premises. In other words, any territory that he has illegally taken must be returned to it's sovereign owner. In addition, any person under his control who committed murder or any other war crime, must be immediately turned over to the Hague for trial. And that includes Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Failure to do so will put the United States back into the region. This time however, the United States will show power so absolute, it will have no restraints. In other words, we have the means and the will, to carpet bomb ISIS back into the stone age.
With the world being a tinderbox, Captain Obvious would look at these items as a good start. Our current Captain Oblivious however, is getting his bike lubricated for yet another very expensive two week vacation on the Cape. With no time to visit the border mess his Administration created, he is now in total vacation mode. Campaigning, playing pool, golfing, bike riding - hey, the world is his oyster! With all that campaigning under his belt, he must be exhausted!

Last August when our worn out Captain Oblivious went to Martha's Vineyard, the flight expenses alone were $1.1M. I know - these days, with this Administration, that is chump change. The cost for food and lodging (and golf) are enormous for the zillions of people he needs to take with him. Some going with are necessary to run the government, and others are, well, freeloaders.

So America, what is your choice? Captain Obvious or Captain Oblivious? I know what my choice is. I will take the goofball. The one in the red coat that is.